Torquemadas in Single Needle Suits

Since I lauded Colonel Pat Lang the other day, and since I fear he interpreted my comment that "Lang’s acerbic commentary lacks all of [Dana] Priest’s balance and moderation" as a critique, I feel duty-bound to link to his post today, riffing on the WaPo timeline describing the Administration’s evolving stance toward torture and the Constitution.

I thought that I had known some tough, ruthless "customers" over the decades, but now I see that they were mostly "wusses."  All those Special Forces soldiers and intelligence people, they just did not "measure up" as tough guys compared to Washington lawyers like the ones cited in this article.

Modern day "Torquemadas" in single needle suits and hand made English shoes.

One must wonder if was mere ambition or a convicion of the rectitude of illegal search and seizure inflicted on American citizens that apealed to these lawyers more in writing these papers.

I suspect that it was ambition.

To make all this even more bitter, the plan clearly was to use American soldiers to do much of this.  (Irony Alert) How grand an idea! In this in way American soldiers could be trained to think that such behavior is appropriate.

Nope. "Lacking all of Dana Priest’s balance and moderation" was definitely not intended as a critique. 

54 replies
  1. wavpeac says:

    I guess one of the points I keep wanting to make is that the Military in general is set up to be exploited in this way. So too, are policemen, and many para military groups. The use of power and control is a form of brainwashing.

    Women in domestic violence actually get brain washed to some degree to believe that they are powerless. This is more effective in individuals who are raised with power and control as the dominate form of parenting or if they grow up in a situation where domestic violence is occuring.

    At any rate, we as a nation need to start to look at this as more of social issue. We are propogating violence when we use power and control to rule the roost. I think however, that this is changing. I don’t think Obama uses much power and control in his rhetoric and he is very popular. MLK was one of the most vocal anti power and control activists ever. He walked the walk at least in his public life. My point being that it is easy to “make” followers. We “make” people followers by robbing them of their personal experiences and personal reactions. We replace them with the ones we want them to have. And this is occuring in the Military everyday. It makes you wonder if you could have a military without it, and if you can’t have a military without it, what does that say about humanity?? And war??

    This is a link to the power wheel. Note that every single one of those behaviors is used in military training. They yell,use intimidation, they isolate them away from family and friends, ration and give out the money that is given only from them as the source, you are not allowed to question authority and most importantly to my thesis stated here, is that they invalidate the personal experiences of the soldier. Minimize, deny and blame. “It’s not that bad, we didn’t do it, and if you are getting mistreated it’s your own fault.” This behavior is a very powerful way to remove the validity of personal experiences.

    This happens in fraternities, it happens in police departments. It’s an amazing dynamic to me that the united states of america has been said to “over value” individuality and the “lone wolf”. And yet, we actually train our military personnel not to trust their own guts, to distrust their own personal experience of a situation. Some people are more susceptible to this and I would bet, that they make better “soldiers” than the ones who “don’t believe the bullshit”, or “swallow the koolaide” or whatever metaphor you want to use. I bet the followers are rewarded in the Military and that freedom from group think does not come until you get much higher in ranks.

    I wish we taught about the use of power and control everywhere because recognizing when it’s happening is the best way of preventing it’s power OVER people. And I think this is part of what happened with torture in the Military. Outliers were persecuted and who knows? maybe some of them paid with their lives? At the least we know of one suicide. (maybe there were others who spoke out and were punished for it).

    The following is a link to a copy of the power and control wheel used by the duluth model to explain a dynamic of violence in relationships. It helps to explain to some degree why so many people have trouble leaving the relationships that are so destructive.

    • whitewidow says:

      Excellent point. America does not, in fact or practice, value individualism. Individualism, making your own decisions, is portrayed as something we value in our lore, but in reality truth-telling and dissent is severely punished, at every level, from the playground up to whistleblowers. Conformism, being a team player and not being a snitch are the behaviors that are actually rewarded.

      Example: Lyndie England from ew’s post yesterday, had support from her community after her role in torture and abuse was revealed. She has had a hard time getting hired, but I would argue that is due more to conformism, not wanting to risk anything, on the part of the employers than any association with torture. She did pay a price by being scapegoated, but only because somebody had to pay once the information got out.I think most people can sympathize with her in large part because she “just went along.”

      Contrast that to the treatment that Joe Darby got. He turned over the pictures of the abuse but did not participate. Rumsfeld outed him on 60 Minutes while he was eating in the mess hall. He had to be flown out the following day. His wife and kids back home were receiving death threats. For his remaining time in the military he had six bodyguards due to threats to him. He and his family left their home and have never returned. I believe he entered something like a witness protection program so he could start over somewhere else.

      The rampant fundamental Christian influence on the military, coupled with this administrations apparent disregard for the 4th Amendment, add in training the military to believe it’s ok to use against fellow Americans. That is some scary stuff. I saw a report that Bush is making an agreement with the Canadian military that would allow both countries to use their military in the other country for disturbances due to “terrorism”.

      I don’t know how we are going to undo what this Administration has done. But I think that any solution has to include some really strong messaging that will get Americans back to thinking that is more aligned with what are supposed to be “American values”. I believe that Americans do overwhelmingly oppose these kind of intrusions on privacy. They need to hear that it’s not a fringe opinion.

      • skdadl says:

        I saw a report that Bush is making an agreement with the Canadian military that would allow both countries to use their military in the other country for disturbances due to “terrorism”.

        whitewidow, I think you’re referring to a dKos diary about an agreement signed in February. It’s true that they keep doing these things, but it’s also true that it isn’t new, especially wrt the armed forces. We keep fighting these “administrative agreements” up here, serious rearrangements of all kinds of things that never get run past your Congress or our Parliament, but the continental integration proceeds apace. It used to be called NAFTA. Now it is the SPP (Security and Prosperity Partnership), aka NAFTA on steroids. But so many Canadians have been cluing in to the SPP that some tall foreheads are now thinking that what they really need to do is change its name. Gah! Where is George Orwell, now that we really need him?

        I honestly don’t think you have much to fear from us. We, however, being your major supplier of oil (most people don’t know that, but it’s easy to google, and for sure Dick Cheney knows where Alberta is) and with all this water …

        If, however, by some fluke in the reality-warp Canada really does attain continental domination, don’t worry. You’ll like us. Ok: you will be bored by us — that is our major virtue. And we haven’t burned down the White House since 1814.

  2. Tross says:

    Just thinking out loud here, but so far I’ve heard not a word from any of our “leaders” on how they plan to fix a completely broken (read: politicized) executive branch.

    Maybe it’s still a bit too early since we don’t have an official nominee, but at some point somebody needs to address this particular pink elephant in the room (I know there are many to choose from).

    • JohnJ says:

      You have hit on my biggest fear for the way forward. If you look at the Peloski/Reid model of dealing with the past (i.e. NOT) the next Admin IMO is more than likely to take the stand that “we need to go forward, not look back”.

      That doesn’t wash; tell that to the hundreds of thousands of Americans in prison for their “past deeds”. Even less defensible is the number of children we put in adult prisons for life for their “past deeds”. Our whole punitive/profitable “justice system” is based on punishing/profiting from someone’s past deeds.

      I was young when Ford pardoned Nixon using that well worn mime, and I bought it! But as Chimpy McFlightsuit says… fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice and you can’t be fooled again (or some such cocaine addled remark).

  3. MarieRoget says:

    Thanks for linking to Col. Lang’s blog. The previous two posts over there are highly readable as well.

    I recall when Pat Lang appeared on 60 Minutes regarding what might be going on @ Gitmo (it was a couple yrs. back), the barely controlled disgust he showed for what has since been revealed that “the Washington lawyers” cited in WaPo’s timeline greenlighted there, his disdain for the futility & stupidity of this sort of “interrogation.”

    I’m really hoping Lang will comment over @ his blog on Doug Feith’s 60 Mins. appearance tonight, considering his history in the DoD & w/Feith.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Ditto. I hadn’t put Lang’s site in my Bookmarks for awhile, but there’s ‘a whole lot of thinking going on’ over there, both in posts and comments.

      wavpeac @ 1 and whitewidow @ 3: the US military is vast, and one description doesn’t fit every branch, or every division. Some in the military are conformist; others are expected to think creatively, while still being able to function in a team. For instance, Special Forces members are expected to be able to think on their own, because their work requires them to do so.

      Perhaps it’s because I’m from the West, but I know people who grew up hunting, fishing, and working outdoors, who preferred life in the military far more than the prospect of sitting behind a desk at some corporate job (which they regard as ‘promotion by ass-kissing’). Those same people didn’t want to be posted to the Pentagon, vastly preferring the ‘active’ in active duty.

      Not everyone who serves in the military is a drone; just as not everyone who works in a corporate environment has the capacity to think critically. There are people in all walks of life who are neither thoughtful, nor responsible. But to imply that (all) people in the military are (mostly) ‘conformists’ fails to explain how Fallon or Odoms or Clarke were able to impact the US military.

      What we have are a cohort of people who’ve grown in affluent suburbs, never being held accountable for screwing up, or for screwing others. Had GWBush, Karl Rove, or Dick Cheney been subjected to military discipline, rather than continually evading their social responsibilities, the world would be a better place.

      Reliable reports suggest that the Army and the Navy that have been trying to stave off the depradations, delusions, and rampant ambitions of the neocons. Personally, I’m heartily rooting for the military in this showdown; it’s been clear since John Murtha started speaking out against the Iraq War that the military has a more pragmatic, reality-based view of things that the neocons/BushCo have ever held.

      I’ll take Sen Jim Webb (former Sec of the Navy under Reagan), or Gen Wesley Clark, or Gen Odom over Cheney, Bush, or the flaming crazies any day of any year.
      The ex-military are pragmatic realists; with all due respect, it’s misleading to mis-categorize the military as simply a pack of drones. It’s too limited and inaccurate a view.

      Appreciate your courtesy in reading my reactions to your own well articulated views.

      • Minnesotachuck says:

        I second everything you say and offer the following in addition.

        One of the blessings of this country that we can lose sight of in times like these is the strong tradition that has emerged within the military itself of the military’s subservience to civilian control. Up until the present day we have never had, to the best of my limited knowledge, a serious coup attempt from within the military against the government. Senior military leaders by and large sees their role as giving the civilian leadership their best strategic and tactical advice in assisting the latter in framing their policy options, but when an option is selected for implementation their obligation from then on is to salute and carry it out to the best of their ability. When one compares this tradition in our country with the revolving door coups d’etat that occur elsewhere, one realizes how fortunate we are.

        What we are seeing in this decade is the abject failure of the “elected” government to exercise responsible leadership. 40+ years ago Peter Drucker wrote a boook entitled The Effective Executive, and at the outset he defined “effectiveness” as “getting the right things done.” At best, the Bush-Cheney cabal has been “wildly off the mark” (to quote Paul Wolfowitz, one of its more noteworthy idiot savants) in its ability to select “the right things”, and has been unable to do them well in any case. In fact the only things it is competent at are deceiving itself and the American people. People abroad are less gullible. At worst, a plausible case can be made that the cabal set out intentionally to hollow out the institutions of the American democracy in the same way that Julius Caesar did with the Roman Republic. As Hitler said in 1936, “I am not a dictator. I have only simplified democracy.”

        One of the many damaging consequences of this situation is that it undermines the respect for some of our best traditions, military subservience to civilian control being one of them. This is especially worrisome today given the degree to which the theocratic right has penetrated the military at all levels. It remains to be seen how this will play out. Will the devout senior officers become disillusioned with the Bush-Cheney gang’s agenda, or will they come to view that agenda as the victim of an insufficiently devout populace that must be dragged kicking and screaming into Armageddon?

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Hmmmm… ‘getting the right things done’… and I’m here on the blogs again… yikies ;-))

          The US had a legal/political coup of sorts in 2000, but we’ve not yet given it a name. The military’s long institutional history is something this nation badly needs at present, when people seem to have so little sense of the past. It’s destabilizing for any culture to be so ‘in the moment’ 24/7/365 as America is today; films like “John Adams” become increasingly valuable for an overworked, stressed population.

          The military has ‘discipline‘. If one assumes the word originally meant ‘disciple‘ ( ’student of a mentor’) then if used prudently, military discipline can produce good leadership and good outcomes over time.

          What we’re stuck with are reckless people who use the US military as photo op backgrounds for POLITICAL, rather than military, objectives. (My contempt knows no bounds! Or, to put it in klynn’s terms, Bu$hCo shows no sense of the extent to which their own safety relies on others; hence, they trivialize the sacrifices made by members of the US military(!)

          One is left wondering how young Bush, or FiveDefermentsCheney, managed to so utterly escape the prudent corrections of military discipline. If they had a shroud of respect for the military, they could not have treated Shinseki so contemptibly.

          The US used assumed that civilian leadership actually respected military experience and advice. Given what we’ve seen, one can only assume that the current WH seeks bootlickers, rather than military expertise. (It does not speak well for Petraeus that the WH seems to think he’s such a great guy.)

          Beyond appalling.

  4. JohnForde says:

    The first step in healing is cleaning the dirt from the wound.
    ‘Waterboarding George’ is the dirt.
    The wound is on the public.
    Therefore ‘Waterboarding George’ must be taken out of the public.

    I suggest Leavenworth although The Hague is more likely.
    Many people think this is virtuous but unlikely. So how do we get the meme going that it is possible? I actually think it is the wrong meme. I am pushing the meme (& I am asking for your help) that it’s not merely possible that ‘Waterboarding George’ is going to prison.

    • WilliamOckham says:

      At church this morning, our pastor made a point about how hard it is to process information that doesn’t match the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and what the world around us is like. This is true on a national level as well. The torture scandal doesn’t fit into most Americans’ “Story of America”. If we want to make the trial of George W. Bush a reality (and I certainly do), we need to tell this story in a way folks can understand it. I think the way to do that is to make a hero (albeit a flawed one) out of Joe Darby and compare him directly to Bush, Addington, Cheney, and Yoo. The thing that saved Joe Darby was his empathy, his ability to ask himself “What if that was me, or my mom, or my child”.

      Ask people to read Yoo’s memo and ask themselves, Is it ok to do that to your child, your spouse, or your parents? Because, in Yoo’s view, if the President decided you were a terrorist, all those things became possible.

      • MrWhy says:

        Ask people to read Yoo’s memo and ask themselves, Is it ok to do that to your child, your spouse, or your parents?

        My problem with this is that people are often of the opinion that the punishments of government should apply to the public at large, but not to those they love. So I substitute people like Donald Trump, George Steinbrenner, and Bill Gates, people that many don’t particularly like. Other good choices might be Marion Jones, Martha Stewart, and Christopher Hitchens. I don’t want to choose reviled members of society, or members of society we look on with excessive kindness or leniency.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        …how hard it is to process information that doesn’t match the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and what the world around us is like. This is true on a national level as well. The torture scandal doesn’t fit into most Americans’ “Story of America”.

        I think your pastor’s analysis might benefit from an additional step. Do we tell ourselves stories in words? Or in pictures? And what happens when the words and pictures don’t match up?

        I created the following exercise — with no claim that it has any scientific validity — to determine whether I could discern any pattern to my thought process about Friar Wm’s notion of ‘ the stories that we tell ourselves’.

        I imagined the photo of Lynndie England with that cigarette hanging out of her mouth, pointing to the prisoner’s genitals. Then, in ‘my mind’s eye’, I superimposed images of well-known people over her image.

        I discovered that I could very easily superimpose some people onto the image of Lynndie England in the Abu Gharib torture photos. However, there were some people that I simply couldn’t envision as ‘torturers’. I have no claims to accuracy in my assessments; however, it proved to be a very interesting exercise. FWIW, I’ll post my ‘results’ below, should anyone else care to repeat the exercise.

        I was easily able to envision (in my mind’s eye) the following individuals in Lynndie England’s position:
        – GWBush in this stance, with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, slouching and smirking.
        – Now, repeat that process for Cheney; I was able to easily imagine him humiliating prisoners.
        – Rumsfeld, Gonzales, Kyle ‘the Aggregator’ Sampson, Addington, Jack Abramoff, John Yoo, Karl Rove.
        Film characters: Commodus (Gladiator), the Roman Soldiers (’Passion of the Christ’)

        For the life of me, I CANNOT imagine the following individuals superimposed on that imagery of Lynndie England engaged in torture:
        Presidents: Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, JFK, Dwight Eisenhower, Harry Truman, FDR, Ronald Reagan, GWHBush, Bill Clinton
        Spiritual: Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II, Jim Wallis (Sojourners;
        Others: Wesley Clark, Patrick Fitzgerald, James Comey, Adm Fallon
        Republicans: John McCain, Sen John Warner, Sen Chuck Hagel, Brent Scowcroft
        Jack Cafferty, Walter Chronkite, Seymour Hersh
        Sen Jim Webb, Howard Dean, Rep. Waxman, Sen Durkin, Sen Dodd, Speaker Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Sen Obama
        Film characters: Hans Solo, Michael Clayton, Maximus (Gladiator), Tom Hanks (Saving Private Ryan), Clint Eastwood, Jim Caveazel (sp?)

        My little exercise isn’t ’scientific’. Nevertheless, I was struck at how easily I was able to ‘mentally superimpose, in my mind’s eye’ certain individuals over the image of Lynndie England. (Political party had nothing to do with it; it’s a function of personality and reputation.)

        I think your pastor makes a very important point.
        I fear that if the world doesn’t see justice, it will seek revenge.
        Revenge is a cycle of guaranteed mutual destruction; only justice has the power to heal and teach.

        massachio @9 — brilliant! (Bravo!! as they say at the opera ;-))

    • klynn says:

      Let’s make that”Waterboarding George-Cheney!”

      Our “trump cards” diplomatically have been a historically practice of a “fair” human rights record (with genuine domestic struggles) and provision of aid… Both based on a historical-cultural notions of fair play and rights declared in our Constitution. Those are gone…

      Looking at the historical notion of “fair play”…

      The game is played as an end in itself, participated in simply for the joy of taking part. Attitudes which involve going for victory at all costs are totally despised.

      Self-control and above all the control of one’s feelings whether one wins or loses.The idea of “Fair Play”, ie. The equal chances of both sides, combined with a total respect for the rules of the game, and a knightly approach of “friendly rivalry” between the opponents.

      Fair Play meant more than just keeping to the rules. In the ideal situation, sport had one simple aim: to provide one with fun, enjoyment, and pleasure. The historical development of the Laws of the Game show how agreement on the rules was closely linked to a social control which was both strict and there for all to see. The “Cambridge Rules” which were published in 1848, were the ancestors of our present Laws of the Game, reflecting the social attitudes of the middle and upper classes of Victorian England.

      The idea of a referee, as an external and effective social control, was only introduced in 1871 when entry to the FA cup was opened to all clubs, including those of the working classes. This required new forms of control. The “Honour of the Gentleman” no longer held for all concerned. Football was no longer played just for fun.

      Success at the game became a part of the war between the classes. For the ordinary folk, it became a way to move up the social or economic ladder; for the nobility it became a way to demonstrate superiority in the political set-up. Obviously in this game, the new rules of fair play were no longer valid� Fair Play had lost its social foundations.

      Later, due to more sporting competitions involving increasing numbers of media attention, the idea of fair play was reduced to the view of “an acceptable foul”, meaning one which avoided injuring the opponent. The idea of fair play moved from being a matter of attitude to a question of expediency, a weighing up the costs and effectiveness: how much can I (still) allow myself to play fairly? Sport had adapted itself to the norms and values of modern society, more precisely, to those of a society where success means everything. Standards for what is considered fair play had fallen dramatically.

      With this crumbling of “fair play” our country has diverted our long standing foreign policy record. Paul Kurtz wrote:

      Something awful seems to be happening to the traditional American sense of fair play and goodwill. The public response in support of the victims of September 11 notwithstanding, in general there seems to be a decline of empathy and altruism. Perhaps I am overreacting, but this deficiency seems to assume many forms.

      What immediately comes to mind is our treatment of prisoners. I refer first to the great flap that emerged worldwide over the Bush administration’s refusal to place the prisoners of war captured in Afghanistan under the rules of the Geneva Convention. They are “unlawful combatants,” we were told; or they are “dangerous and our guards need to be protected”; or, in still another statement, “They do not deserve any better.” I’ve always thought that the Geneva Convention provided commendable rules governing the treatment of prisoners of war, rules that all civilized nations should follow. The prisoners are being treated “humanely,” we were told. Surely, we would want our own soldiers, if captured anywhere in the world, to be treated in accord with the Geneva Convention. How can we demand this in the future if we violate these rules today? President Bush relented after much criticism at home and abroad and grudgingly declared that Taliban prisoners would come under the Geneva Convention, but not members of the Al Qaeda. Many critics believe that this concession does not go far enough.

      Of course our foundational push of Fair Play and Good Will have their original roots in Natural Law. Because of the intersection between natural law and natural rights, this intersection has been cited as a component in United States Declaration of Independence.

      Beyond the erosion of “Fair Play,” much has gone done the pike to erode our legal practice of it in policy. Obviously, Wesley Newcomb Hohfeld has been a hero for this administration with his “roughly comparable empowerment mode…power, disability, liabilty,immunity…” Yoo must find him a hero of sorts…

      Colonel Lang words have pushed me to read Normativity and Norms by Stanley Paulson in order to understand the development of such sick realities in our nation’s policies and legal defense of such policies …

  5. skdadl says:

    EW, about the Torquemadas in single-needle suits: I remember listening to Jack Goldsmith talking to Bill Moyers about how over-lawyered the Bush administration has been, and of course given that setting (Moyers’ program) and given my own prejudices, I thought that Goldsmith was thinking what I do, which is that a lot of these guys lost any kind of principled anchor as they worked away at being ever more and more clever on the details.

    I don’t have Goldsmith’s book, although I know you’ve read it closely. From anything I can find online, it seems to me now that that’s not what Goldsmith meant. He seems most of the time to be making the more banal complaint that the old laws were setting up dangerous barriers to investigators in a time of emergency (and I don’t discount anyone’s fears or sadness about the emergencies).

    Anyway, I would be interested to read you on that topic. It puzzles me.

  6. masaccio says:

    I have now read the first half of the torture memo (interrupted by opera rehearsal and a giant brief). Here is the argument:
    Factual predicate: we are at war.
    Legal conclusion: Our Glorious Leader is therefore decked out in his most excellent Commander–in-Chief costume.
    Factual predicate: our enemy consists solely of unlawful belligerents.
    Legal analysis: unlawful belligerents can be treated as our sovereign chooses, without regard to any law or treaty.
    Legal conclusion: We are therefore unconstrained by any law in our treatment of the army of unlawful belligerents.
    Factual predicate: the most important aspect of fighting unlawful belligerents is gaining intelligence.
    Factual predicate: torture is a great way to get intelligence.
    Legal conclusion: We can therefore torture the unlawful belligerents.
    Legal analysis of torture: The defined crime of torture requires specific intent to torture.
    Factual predicate: we need intelligence from unlawful belligerents.
    Factual predicate: torture will bring us that intelligence.
    Factual predicate: torturers are only doing their job of gathering intelligence.
    Legal conclusion: no torturer can have the requisite intent.

    Watching the moves between his factual premises and his conclusions is the key to understanding the intellectual dishonesty of that lickspittle Yoo. I put this up as a diary on Kos, adding a lengthy example of that intellectual dishonesty. More available upon demand.

  7. wavpeac says:

    John Forde

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Few major changes take place without significant consequences to motivate change. It should be evitable.

    I just think historically america has not had a very good track record of holding it’s leaders accountable for these kinds of misdeeds. I really don’t know why that is.

    • BayStateLibrul says:

      I’d say because America is arrogant…
      Since Regan, we’ve become foolish, self-indulgent, indifferent
      and disconnected…

  8. bmaz says:

    Contrary to the Gooper ethos, few things are truly black and white. Life is complex; full of unanticipated results and unintended consequences. Take Hi-Def TeeVee for instance. The modern marvel of high resolution makes Luke Skywalker’s battles seem new again; wondrous and spectacular in detail. But Hi-Def also demonstrates quite clearly what a tacky, non-natty, dresser Jar Jar Binks is. And so it is with the Torquemada torture brigade of wingnut Federalist lawyers. And thus I must disagree and take great exception to Col. Lang’s post. I have seen Yoo, Law of the Sea Goldsmith, the Helium Head Chipmunk Brad Schlozman, Sampson, Dumpy Goodling, Bybee, Alito; all of them in Hi-Def. They all, every one of them, looked a hell of a lot closer to Peter Falk’s Columbo attire than that of a single point tailor from Saville Row. These asswipes can’t even dress sharp. Probably wear Hush Puppies instead of Cole-Haan’s too. Not that there is anything wrong with that….

    • kspena says:

      I love the details you use to make a point.

      Here’s a great radio interview of Scott Horton (NY) by Scott Horton (Austin) on the Bybee/Yoo memo.…..-horton-8/

      Also if you want to see the Senators on the Foreign Relations get turned (jerked) around on Iraq by Said, Biddle and especially Nir Rosen, watch CSPAN:

      Senate Foreign Relations Cmte. Hearing on the Political Situation in Iraq (04/02/2008)…..-horton-8/

    • skdadl says:

      That was very funny. Well, you knew that.

      Tell me something: how do you stay cheerful? The evil stuff gets to me. Our evil guys have mostly been incompetent so far (with the single exception of dear leader, who is lacking in affect, rather like Addington, but smart in a narrow way), so that is encouraging, but there’s always a possibility that they could take over, incompetent or not. I get so depressed. You guys have already seen this happen. How do you keep laughing?

      • bmaz says:

        What else to do? It, as the old saw goes, beats the alternative. As to teh funny, I really miss the Filipino Monkey and Wackiest Ships in the Iranian Navy. Now that was funny.

      • BayStateLibrul says:

        Great question…

        How to handle rage and despair from Vonnegut

        “This is what makes “Armageddon in Retrospect” such a gripping read: The volume demonstrates Vonnegut’s mind-boggling evolution as a writer, the manner in which he learned how to cloak his rage in hilarity, to cop to his immense despair without surrendering to it.” — Salon

        • skdadl says:

          That works if you’re Vonnegut. I, alas, am not. When I lose my temper, I become spittingly incoherent, and then the oppo get to laugh at me or at least dismiss me.

    • prostratedragon says:

      Bush in fine Italian tailoring: person clobbers persona. (I recall noticing a while back that he had to be wearing a few thou of well-fitted suit, and that it still didn’t give him the hint of a graceful demeanor.)

      Restoring some degree of sound administration to the federal bureaucracy, starting with DOJ, is the priority issue for me; I think it’s an emergency.

      I’m sure you’re blinded by my shimmering optimism from here. Nevertheless I retain a bit of hope.

  9. wavpeac says:

    Well, I’d like to take it only as far back as Reagan and I would agree that every nation has a violent history of some sort. But it does seem like we have easily forgiven ourselves for some pretty flagrant violations of human rights. Historically we minimized, denied or blamed our behavior on others. I think the single most important pursuit of america if we are going to evolve past these types of human rights violations would be to tell the truth. To validate reality. We have to replace minimize, deny and blame with accountability, making amends, and living amends (changes for the future) that prevent these violations from occurring. It’s like we just aren’t ready to hold ourselves accountable. Some situation might come up where we need to kill someone or torture them and then “Holy crap! batman! what if we were incapable of finding a nonviolent solution??”

    Accountability. NOW.

  10. CTuttle says:

    Ya’ll should check out the new report the crew that advised the ISG had just released today! Just in time for Betrayus and Crock o’shit’s testimony on Tuesday… The 14 questions they want our Congress Critters to ask of them are well worth the read… Here’s the report and the Q’s are on page 8&9 of this pdf file……..8040502204

  11. prostratedragon says:

    The tide, she are most languid this even-ning: Imagine Daffy Duck speaking of sprezzatura.

    More than “style” is involved …

  12. Minnesotachuck says:

    OT: Per Omar Khdhayyir and Saba Ali Ihsaan of GorillaGuides:

    There is very heavy fighting going on in Sadr city. The Americans have it under siege and are refusing all access to the city. American helicopters have bombed the city repeatedly. American snipers are being deployed on the roof tops. Imam Ali spokesmen say they are now desperately short of medical supplies. The Red Crescent attempts to get emergency medical supplies to the city which we reported yesterday have failed because the Americans will not let them through.…..h-06-2008/

    • kspena says:

      OT-On Sadr City fighting today: From Informed Comment, Group Blog—
      “For the moment, the ceasefire or freeze that has been in place since August seems to be out the door. Violence will likely increase, as illustrated by the rocketing of the Green Zone (three Americans killed) today, following a U.S. raid in Sadr City”

  13. MadDog says:

    To make all this even more bitter, the plan clearly was to use American soldiers to do much of this. (Irony Alert) How grand an idea! In this way American soldiers could be trained to think that such behavior is appropriate.

    From “Assistant Attorney General William E. Moschella Letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein (February 28, 2006)”:

    …Nevertheless, we have explained that the Force Resolution (Note: meaning the Al-Qaeda AUMF) provides authority for the fundamental incidents of the use of force…

    …Finally, the Posse Comitatus Act generally prohibits using the Army or Air Force for domestic law enforcement purposes absent statutory authorization. That statute does not address the use of military force for military purposes, including national defense, in the armed conflict with al Qaeda…

    • MadDog says:

      And more from “Assistant Attorney General William E. Moschella Letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein (February 28, 2006)”:

      1. I have been informed by former Majority Leader Senator Tom Daschle that the Administration asked that language be included in the “Joint Resolution to Authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States” (P.L. 107-40) (hereinafter “the Authorization” or “AUMF”) which would add the words “in the United States” to its text, after the words “appropriate force.”

      • Who in the Administration contacted Senator Daschle with this request?

      • Please provide copies of any communication reflecting this request, as well as any documents reflecting the legal reasoning which supported this request for additional language.

      The Congressional Research Service recently concluded that the account of Senator Daschle to which your question refers “is not reflected in the official record of the legislative debate” on the Authorization for Use of Military Force (hereinafter “Force Resolution”). See Richard F. Grimmet, Authorization for Use of Military Force in Response to the 9/11 Attacks (P.L. 107-40): Legislative History at 3 n.5 (Jan. 4, 2006). We do not recall such a discussion with former Senator Daschle and are not aware of any record reflecting such a conversation. In any event, a private discussion cannot change the plain meaning and evident intent of the Force Resolution, which clearly confirms and supplements the President’s authority to take military action within the United States.

      (My Bold)

  14. Mary says:

    9 – There’s also that factual predicate that, without taking someone on a battlefield and without any due process of any kind, they can pick up someone off the street, from a home, or purchased off a warlord and “know” that the person they have is, after all, an “unlawful” enemy combatant. Or the fair game child or family relation of an “unlawful” enemy combatant.

    • masaccio says:

      Mary, that one is a stumper, isn’t it? I don’t even see a justification for that in Yoo’s execrable excuse for legal work. Maybe the argument is that we can torture the father, and a good way to do that is to torture his kid in front of him. So we can do that. Didn’t Yoo make a similar argument about this subject?

      • bmaz says:

        Irrespective of what demented, sick, cruel, permanently debilitating and/or death causing acts we do to the young children, there is no mens rea for the crime of torture because we are simply trying to get information out of the father. See, it’s all hunky dory! Because Unitary Executive, and his torture team, of the party of moral and family values, culture of life and god almighty said so. If you don’t believe me, just ask Yoo.

  15. Mary says:

    14 – if you were going to be getting that much blood on your hands, you’d forego the expensive suits until later too.

    27/29 – Moschella is kind of the Lyndie of the DOJ crimnal crew. The ever-grateful mongrel currying favor from the torture boys. A modern day Uriah Heep, sending off letters to “Master Congressfield” while plotting away.

  16. Mary says:

    OT – but not much. Remember the discussion about the lone contractor who WAS convicted for detainee “abuse” (death was the result, but no charges were filed for the death) and how the Yoo memos might impact on his situation?

    Seems WaPo, in the Friday article that was mostly about about the Fourth Amendment issue from the footnote, mentions the Crim division and all the disappeared Contractor investigations as well:

    Justice Department officials also declined to explain a reference in Yoo’s 2003 memo that said the Criminal Division “concurs in our conclusion” that federal criminal laws do not apply to the military during wartime. The division was led at the time by Michael Chertoff, now head of the Department of Homeland Security.

    The Justice Department has dropped 22 out of 24 cases of alleged detainee abuse by civilian employees and contractors referred by the CIA and the Defense Department. A U.S. official said the Yoo memo’s legal arguments that interrogators are exempt from such criminal liability could have been part of the reason why those cases were dropped.

    “Could it conceivably have played a role in deciding whether to prosecute or not? Certainly, in theory,” said a law enforcement official involved in the deliberations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “If there was a memo blessing behavior at a certain point in time, and someone relied on legal guidance, could they have formed the necessary intent” to break the law?

    Right. Just following advice, that is definitely WAY WAY different than the “just following orders” defense to depravity.

    So not only no charges, but not even any sunshine. God, this has to be the most filthy, corrupt excuse for a Justice dept. this nation has ever had. It’s amazing that so many people showed up every day, years after the revelations beganc coming out, to make legalizing random torture elitists who have unwavering protection for anything they do, a fait accompli.

  17. Mary says:

    40 – ROTL, you forgot the important one. Jack Bauer.

    There are a couple on your list of “can’t see them doing it” that I can see, but I won’t go there. I will say that you are right about not being able to picture some there. Interesting mind game.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Yeah, I wouldn’t for one instant expect others to come up with the same can see them/ can’t see them lists that I do. But I suspect there’d be agreement in quite a few cases.

      Storytelling is not just about words.
      Rove is the master, and I’ll never forget reading in 2000 when Bush’s polling numbers were dropping that he decided to ‘wear jeans’, and the next week was photographed in front of the fireplace in Texas. In August. (Musta been hell on the air conditioning bill, but he could afford it.)

      The Republicans, starting with Reagan, were ‘mostly image’ when communicating with the US public. And they still are.
      So that whole ‘narrative and storytelling’ needs some better imagery, methinks.

      …paging Jane Hamsher…

  18. BayStateLibrul says:

    Hearings, hearings, hearings…

    From Letter to the Editor (NYT)

    Re “ ’03 U.S. Memo Approved Harsh Interrogations”:

    It’s high time that the authors of the Bush administration’s legal recipe book for torture be brought out of the kitchen and into the courtroom. Yet despite volumes of highly credible evidence of human rights crimes, or even war crimes, a negligent Congress continues to fail miserably in its responsibility to mandate proper investigations into these cruel policies.

    The United States’ moral and political standing in the world have completely eroded, and legitimate prosecutions of crimes against humanity against the United States have been compromised. Congress must finally face its own complicity in torture with concrete measures — not shortsighted hearings — by ordering a full, independent investigation into how torture became United States modus operandi and holding those responsible accountable.

    Curt Goering
    Deputy Executive Director
    Amnesty International USA

    New York, April 2, 2008

  19. Mary says:

    46 – they must, but they won’t.


    When it became clear that we needed intelligence, and that this would best come from human sources, we fell back on the tactic of using force to get it. We rounded Iraqis up by force, very often at random, and interrogators like myself tried to extract intelligence by force, using either Fear Up Harsh or, in my case and many others, verying types of torture. Getting massive quantities of intelligence, rather than getting quality intelligence, became an end in itself. So I interrogated as many prisoners as possible in a 16-hour day, instead of focusing on the prisoners we knew were most valuable.

    … What we did was bad for the Iraqis and bado for our troops. …

    But looking back, it came so naturally. Heavy handed tactics in service of a humanitarian goal is absurd, but it is also very American. It was like we wanted to be both feared and loved; to flex our military muscle and have people rush to join the winning team. Isn’t that what we, as Americans, would do? Maybe we’re wrong in saying that Arabs understand only force. Maybe it’s actually we who have that fixation.

    At the same time, we really want to believe that we’re good guys. … I’d routinely apologize to prisoners I’d abused, threatened and tortured … but maybe I was acting on a very deep American compulsion to try and believe, and to make others believe, that we are incredibly strong, even brutal, and yet at the same time very compassionate and caring.

    …In Baghdad, a New York Times reporter talked to an Iraqi man who’d not only been beaten severly by American troops but had been pissed on as well. But when he got to the American-run hospital, he got the best care we could provide. “I’m really confused. At the base, they beat and tortured me. Here they treat me like a human being.”

    Love me or I’ll kill you.

  20. Mary says:

    Looking at the timelines and torture memos and articles, I think that I was likely completely wrong in my spec in an earlier thread that perhaps the reference to shooting down planes had been in connection with earlier drug wars.

    Going back to the golden oldies, this 10/24/2004 WaPo article reminds that there was a Flanigan/Yoo inspired memo about the acceptablity of shooting down US planes, and also about using the Iraq tactics of bombing homes and children on a wing and a prayer of “getting” an insurgent to add to the body count —– right here at home. While Flanigan apparently wasn’t offering up any of his 14 kids for that experiment in Constitutional Yoo-Who, exchanges between Flanigan and Yoo generated a memo, 11 days after 9/11, that:

    … listed an inventory of possible operations: shooting down a civilian airliner hijacked by terrorists; setting up military checkpoints inside an American city; employing surveillance methods more sophisticated than those available to law enforcement; or using military forces “to raid or attack dwellings where terrorists were thought to be, despite risks that third parties could be killed or injured by exchanges of fire.”

    Mr. Yoo noted that those actions could raise constitutional issues, but said that in the face of devastating terrorist attacks, “the government may be justified in taking measures which in less troubled conditions could be seen as infringements of individual liberties.”

    Yeah, using the American military to kill American children in their “dwellings” – I guess some wild eyed cretins might imagine that would be an “infringment” on liberties. Can’t imagine how Haditha happened, huh, after a green light to do pretty much the same thing here at home. Thank God for the way Honore responded when we did get military support to NOLA. It makes you wonder if the delay was really just incompetence, or a behind the scenes fight over whether or not they could use NOLA as an excuse to implement some of the Flanigan/Yoo/DOJ proposals.

    And you know, I hate to make any generalizations, but maybe it’s just a really horrible idea to let ex-Silberman clerks anywhere near power, huh?

    One young lawyer recalled looking around the room during a meeting with Attorney General John Ashcroft. “Of 10 people, 7 of us were former Silberman clerks,” he said.

    And Berenson, in that article, indicates how much the lawyers wanted to take risk.

    “Legally, the watchword became ‘forward-leaning,’ ” said a former associate White House counsel, Bradford Berenson, “by which everybody meant: ‘We want to be aggressive. We want to take risks.’ ”

    Well, why the hell isn’t Congress or anyone else giving those armchair warriors exactly what they want? Send them to Iraq for trial – after all, it may be a bit of a “risk” but that’s what they all wanted. Since they’ve been given everything else they wanted, power, money, a thoroughly corrupted Dept. of Justice, a US enamored with torture of innocent people, support for gulags, a nation striken by the effects of a pursuit of a war of depravity, etc. — why hold back on this one last thing they wanted?

    They wanted to take risks. The nation should quit insulating them; preventing them from embracing what they wanted most. No consequences means no risk. They really should be given the gift of risk that they so selflessly passed on to others.

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